In the United States, 28% of all youth ages 14 to 17 have been sexually victimized over the course of their lifetime. This breaks down to 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys who experience child sexual abuse. These children may become entwined in the legal system in a myriad of ways. Jane Doe provides a lawyer to help children understand and navigate the legal system in the aftermath of sexual abuse. The focus at Jane Doe is on the overall best interests of children, both physically and emotionally, to set them up for long-term success.
Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)
In family court cases involving child custody, parents are commonly in disagreement about the best custody and visitation arrangement for children. In these cases, where both parents are frequently represented by their own lawyers, the judge may appoint an attorney specifically to represent the best interests of the children involved. This attorney, called a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), is an objective person who gets to know the children and their daily lives. The GAL then makes a recommendation to the judge about what they feel is in a child’s best interests. At Jane Doe, a lawyer is available to serve as a GAL whenever appointed by a judge in St. Louis County, Missouri. In addition to working with the children directly (depending on age), Jane Doe is committed to working with parents to help them be the best possible parents they can be as their family undergoes important life changes.
Children as Victim-Witnesses
In a criminal case where someone is being charged with abusing a child, the child may be called to testify at an interview, deposition, and/or in open court. For most children, this process can be terrifying, especially in expedited cases in which the alleged abuser is a juvenile. Each courtroom functions differently with regards to how a child will be questioned and who will be allowed to serve as moral support for a child. Jane Doe has crafted a unique program that provides a lawyer for children who are called to serve as victim-witnesses in criminal prosecution. This allows Jane Doe to ensure that children are connected with necessary mental health resources, are informed about the process of a criminal prosecution, and know what to expect when being questioned in different settings. By providing a lawyer for child witnesses, Jane Doe also makes a point to educate and guide parents and guardians through the criminal process and help them make informed decisions about what is in the best interests of their children. In most cases, a Jane Doe attorney will work hand-in-hand with a child’s counselor to make sure they are as prepared as possible for the legal process.
Other legal services for children are also available on an as-needed basis, including assistance with orders of protection and representation of teenage parents.
To speak with a lawyer about representing a child, please call 314.329.5339. If you want to schedule a safe time to speak with an attorney, please click here to visit our online scheduler.
PLEASE NOTE: Parents should NOT call to inquire about GAL services before a Jane Doe lawyer is appointed by the judge as this may result in a conflict of interest. If you are interested in Jane Doe’s GAL services for your own family court case, please speak with your attorney or the judge in your case and ask that a Jane Doe lawyer be appointed as your GAL.
 The National Center for Victims of Crime